A few weeks ago, I asked all of you to take a poll on which National Park on that list I should visit next. Of the excellent choices, Yosemite National Park was the overwhelming winner. (Let me take a second to say how fun of an experiment it was to let YOU choose!)
I spent many years living in California’s Bay Area, but I do not recall having a chance to visit Yosemite. In the realm of National Parks, Yosemite is usually in the top three of the “Best” parks to visit. Having already visited Yellowstone the year prior, my expectations were high yet I was still unsure what to expect.
Yosemite is beautiful in it’s own way. Massive granite cliffs and giant sequoias can be found all over the Yosemite Valley. Yosemite, although very popular, was not as touristy as I thought it was going to be. Maybe I was jaded with how touristy Yellowstone and Grand Canyon can be. Either way, Yosemite was low on the tourist scale. If anything, it had a touch of that wild and free that most people look for in a National Park.
I didn’t have much time to explore the whole area. (The transportation system in the park is rather terrible. Be prepared to drive yourself or walk to each destination. I do NOT recommend their shuttles!) I could see the famous Half Dome looming in the background, but considering it is a 16 hour hike, it was a hard pass on this trip. Instead we opted to hike around the Yosemite Valley near Mirror Lake and up to Lower Yosemite Falls.
Mirror Lake, although great for a picture or two, was no where near as awesome as Lower Yosemite Falls. The highlight of my day in Yosemite was the end of this trail. At the base of the waterfall, the water collects into neck high pools where you can go swimming! I don’t know about you, but swimming in fresh, cold waterfall water after a hot hike is a great idea! The water was cold, but you are having way too much fun to care. There are usually other tourists around who are sharing in the good times. Although you don’t have the place to yourself, it’s nice to have a helping hand around when you need assistance. I wouldn’t recommend swimming during any other time of year, but it was ideal for the summer.
Yosemite was a nice experience and I can see myself going back to give Half Dome a shot. I just need to get in to better shape, but the thought of those pictures I could take and the bragging rights I could have seem worth it. Wouldn’t you agree?